J. Lavonen, K. Juuti, and V. Meisalo (Finland)
Science learning, Microcomputer Based Laboratory,MBL package, designing research
A research and development project and properties of the
designed Microcomputer Based Laboratory (MBL)
package, Empirica, for school science studies is reported.
The package consists of specifically designed software, an
Interface, 21 sensors, and a hypertext manual. The
Interface has four analog and four digital channels and
two DA converters. The sensors are connected to the
Interface, which is connected to a USB port or a serial
port of a PC. Collected data can be analyzed and
displayed in graphic form, in real or delayed time.
Students' and teachers' expectations or needs have been
researched to develop the package,. Students working in a
school laboratory with the prototype package have been
videotaped and a qualitative approach used in data
analysis. Designing the prototype has been based on
research-based knowledge about the user-friendliness of
MBL packages and on an analysis of teachers' and
students' expectations of a user-friendly MBL package.
The aim of the design process has been to offer hardware,
software, and guidance (a hypertext manual) for different
pedagogical approaches including sample experiments
that are not recipes, but well stated chemically,
physically, and pedagogically to introduce novel,
computer-aided ways of doing practical work.